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IN THE NEWS

05 Sep 2019

Press Conference: Women Regional Network and Women Advocacy Committee on Recent Peace Dialogue

Afghanistan is again in a critical situation. The peace negotiation process between the Taliban and US has led to wide-spread insecurity and enhanced fears among the Afghan people as they know nothing about the content of the so-called Peace Agreement. Afghan’s future is being negotiated without the inclusion of the Afghan people. The Women’s Regional Network and the Women’s Advocacy Committee express serious concerns that the US Special Representative to these talks, Ambassador Khalilzad, has put the hard won gains of the Afghan women in jeopardy. No one has suffered more at the hands of the Taliban than the women of Afghanistan.  However, Afghan women have made enormous strides since the Taliban Government was overthrown in 2001 by US forces. Women’s rights are now protected in the Afghan Constitution giving them equality in every respect including the right to vote, along with the right to access education, justice and health care.

21 Jun 2019

No women, no peace, no democracy, By Swarna Rajagopalan

Recently, more than 75 members of the US Congress signed a letter urging the US administration to keep its statutory commitment to promote women’s participation in peace processes by insisting on the inclusion of Afghan women in the talks with the Taliban. This followed an intensive advocacy campaign by Afghan women and their supporters in the US to rally such support. As I have shared my excitement about the successful advocacy efforts in the US on the issue of Afghan women’s participation, I have had people look back at me blankly. Afghanistan? War? Taliban? Women, what women?

06 Jun 2019

Congress sends letter to Secretary Pompeo on Afghan Women

A bi-partisan group of Members of Congress sent a letter today to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to ensure that Afghan women are equally and meaningfully represented in the peace process and that any agreement protects women’s rights. Research by the International Peace Institute shows that when women have a substantive role in peace negotiations, the likelihood the agreement will last beyond 15 years increases by as much as 35 percent. Recognizing the importance of women’s participation, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the Women, Peace, and Security Act. As you know, that law makes it U.S. policy to promote women's meaningful participation in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts. Women from across Afghanistan have come together in an unprecedented way to call for their equal and meaningful participation in any ceasefire and peace process. Yet, when American diplomats met with the Taliban in Doha this February and May, Afghan women were not represented. Afghan women’s voices need to be heard – not just on women’s rights, but on the future of their country.  The letter ends, “As negotiations with the Taliban continue, women’s perspectives and the preservation of women’s rights and human rights should be at the center of your efforts, including by ensuring that women have a meaningful seat at the table. Sustainable peace in the country and the region depends upon it.”

04 Apr 2019

Women Must Be Part of the Afghan Peace Process

Afghan women are leaders. They are central to building strong Afghan institutions and legal frameworks and creating opportunity for all Afghans. The current U.S. peace envoy, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, would be well served to call on them, and their expertise, as he seeks an elusive peace in Afghanistan. As part of any dialogue and debate about the future of Afghanistan, it is critical that the Afghan government, and Afghan citizens, be genuinely engaged in the process. This is not a process that should be reserved for the United States, some Afghan politicians, and the Taliban.

03 Jun 2019

Afghan female leaders urge Trump administration to stand up for their rights in Taliban peace talks

The United States' chief negotiator for Afghanistan left Washington on Friday for stops around the globe to rally support for his talks with the Taliban before a seventh round of meetings with the militant group's leaders. But there's one constituency that's consistently voiced their concerns about the U.S. talks and is ringing the alarm again. In interviews, several prominent female Afghan leaders said these talks are an issue of life and death for Afghan women, and they will not allow their country to return to the dark days of oppression and abuse under a potential peace agreement with the Taliban. They're calling on U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad to do more to ensure women have a place at the negotiating table.

28 Feb 2019

On displacement: “Where are you from?” By Swarna Rajagopalan

The memory of flight lives within most of us. When we read about people who relocate out of choice or are forced to leave their homes, we read from the standpoint of great stability. But migration and very likely, flight, are a part of virtually every family history, should we care to share and remember. The decision to come from the village to the town; the decision to take a job half-way across the country in a city where you do not understand the language, or the decision to leave with your documents (or without) and simply find the first road to safety—we are bound by the meaning this question holds: “Where are you from?”

25 Feb 2019

The trauma of forced displacement. By Swarna Rajagopalan

The decision to leave is never easy. One builds a home with more than money and time, and this space holds more than objects—the corner your child was born; the first room around which two generations added others; the cot that you brought with you from your maternal home; the cow whose mother also was a member of the family. But you decide to survive, so you leave.

30 Jan 2019

Civil Society Declaration for Revitalising South Asian Regional Cooperation

We, members of civil society networks of South Asia gathered in Colombo to deliberate on a South Asian Regional Agenda for Collective Advocacy on Human Rights, Peace and Democracy,* have resolved to re-energise collaborations across South Asian frontiers for peace, democracy and human rights.

Distressed by the progressive weakening of the inter-governmental SAARC organisation, we resolved to promote the spirit of regionalism among the peoples of South Asia while seeking to re-energise SAARC.

Noting that interactions between South Asian civil society organisations and individuals have declined over the past few years, for various reasons, the meeting recognised the urgent need to promote greater engagement between scholars, activists, professionals and politicians across South Asia.

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